Dr. Shadow and Mr. Light, while good neighbours, couldn't be more different. When an artificial sun goes awry, however, they have to collaborate in order to ensure their survival. At least that's what one deduces from the cutscenes, which have no dialogue at all: no related material explains what happens exactly. What matters is that they are thrown into a 2.5D platformer with a few puzzle elements.
After two introductory stages to familiarize with each character, you are given the ability to switch between the two. Light is a more typical platform game hero, he's fast and can jump, and needs to be inside light sources to survive. Shadow, piloting a small robot, can stick to any surface and manipulate some objects, and is incinerated by light. Of course, the abilities of both are needed to overcome obstacles, coupled with quick reflexes – sometimes you may need to perform a quick switch during the few instants of survival inside the opposite environment. To complicate matters, moving platforms can also make light sources variable, and some lights are intermittent.
The asymmetry of the characters works, thanks to some good level design that valorizes both of them. The heroes have first to traverse the surface of a very hostile planet, joining forces when a bizarre machine tries to eat them, then they enter inside the artificial sun, to finally reach the core and overcome a final challenge to reset it to normal. Of note is the penultimate level: it fits into a single screen, with ant-size characters, but a zoom on the player is shown in the center of the screen.
Of Light & Shadow shows that you don't need many polygons and hyper-detailed textures for a game to look great: some textures do in fact look blurry but give a pictorial look to the whole. Each level feels unique and has some details that stand out, like the gigantic frog-like creature near the end of the second level. The foreground and platforms are three-dimensional while backgrounds are made with several 2D layers; the characters are small but stand out thanks to their cel-shaded look. Last but not least, there are a lot of great lighting effects, a given since they are so important to the gameplay. The end result is so good that by looking at the screenshots, or even staying still while playing, you may think it's a purely 2D game.
For all the professional quality and polish – the only gripe is with the sometimes iffy jump physics of Light - it's unfortunately very short, just seven stages. After you finish, you can replay them in a more difficult version, with an odd purple filter over the visuals, but some passages become more frustrating than challenging.
Made by a sizable team, Of Light & Shadow would deserve a commercial upgrade with more content, provided that they manage to maintain the consistent quality of the levels shown in this release.